Trial and Error (1962) (aka: The Dock Brief) Peter Sellers, Richard Attenborough, Beryl Reid, David Lodge, Frank Pettingell, Tristram Jellinek Movie Review

Trial and Error (1962)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Richard Attenborough and Peter Sellers in Trial and Error (1962) (aka: The Dock Brief)

Law and Boredom

Mr. Fowle (Richard Attenborough - The League of Gentlemen) has found himself falling foul of the law after murdering his joke cracking wife Doris (Beryl Reid). It is how he meets Morgenhall (Peter Sellers - Two Way Stretch), a barrister who takes his case, although it seems a pretty hopeless one for both men. This is especially the case for Mr. Fowle as sadly Morgenhall is not exactly very good at what he does.

They say that comedy is always subjective and as such I don't mind saying that "Trial and Error" was 76 minutes of unfunny boredom for me. Here is a movie which in fairness has a semi amusing style as when Morgenhall visits Mr. Fowle in his holding cell in the courthouse what follows is the story told out almost in the observational way of "A Christmas Carol" so we see them observing Mr. Fowle's married life as Doris was a wife who laughed a lot and that constant laughing and cracking jokes was what caused him to finally snap. But then we also have some observational imaginary scenes as they act out how the court case will unfold. And all of this is cleverly done to feel like the holding cell is a set between two others, the home and the courtroom with the men almost stepping in to each one.

The trouble is that for the most "Trial and Error" consists of just Peter Sellers and Richard Attenborough playing characters that to me were more annoying than funny despite the fact they both played them well. There annoying nature was exacerbated by the fact that when we do get other characters, such as Beryl Reid's Doris, they end up just annoying and frankly forced, some thing which I am assuming was intentional. It is actually difficult to explain what it is about these characters or the humour in "Trial and Error" which just failed to do it for me and that is because of the whole subjective nature of comedy. What I will say is that the only time I really laughed was when it came to how "Trial and Error" ends, highlighting the almost perverseness of the legal system.

What this all boils down to is that "Trial and Error" was not for me as whilst it was a technically well made movie with some nice ideas, the main part of it being the characters and the comedy simply ended up more annoying than entertaining.